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Welcome to our Know-How Hub here at The Dubai Navigator.

We are experts in tax-optimized investment and relocation strategies for individuals and businesses alike, with a focus on Dubai and the UAE. Enjoy our free articles, and if you are looking for more in-depth 1-on-1 support, check out our paid services.

Full Checklist: What to Consider BEFORE Opening a Dubai Business

There are multiple ways how you can open a company in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

You can open a company completely on your own.

You can use one of the many service providers or agents out there.

Or you can hire a tax & investment strategy firm to incorporate a business for you.

All those options have different pricing but also come with very different benefits and drawbacks.

In this article, we are covering the pros and cons of the various ways you can open a UAE company.

At The Dubai Navigator we assist clients with the full business and residence relocation process.

There are many aspects to consider before opening a UAE business.

These include selecting a company type and location

Choosing from the many available visa types.

Making sure you have proper processes in place when hiring employees and maintaining your company.

Managing your tax obligations in your home country, as well as the UAE.

As well as the time and money you are willing to invest.

Let’s look at how you can master those aspects.

Company Types

When you set up a business in the UAE, you will need to choose between 50 free zones and 7 emirates for mainland companies.

You will also need to decide on whether to open an LLC, a limited company, a partnership or a sole proprietorship.

Different company types will incur different set-up costs and maintenance expenses.

If you operate internationally, you may also want to keep subsidiaries in other countries.

Depending on how you structure your UAE and international business operations you can effectively shield yourself from high taxation.

On your own, you will need to compare these options by yourself.

If you use a standard company setup provider, you are usually limited to certain free zones that the provider works with. And commonly, they will recommend you free zones that pay them commissions, rather than free zones that actually benefit you, the client.

Here at the Dubai Navigator, we open companies in all 7 emirates, 50 plus free zones, and even in other countries, such as the US and the UK, in case you want to trade internationally.

We can set up multi-company holding structures and Special Purpose vehicles, that are effective in protecting your assets internationally and shield your operations from high tax loads.

Visa Application

On your own, once you have chosen a free zone or emirate, you can apply for a company investor visa directly through your free zone or the authorities in your emirate.

If you use an agent, they will usually apply for your visa on your behalf.

However, even if you open a UAE company, getting a company investor visa may not be the best option.

Company visas have a maximum 2-year validity.

That means that you need to apply for a new visa, go through medical check-ups, and apply for a new Emirates ID every 2 years.

On the other hand, a 10-year Golden Visa may not only be more convenient but also save you money in the long term.

Visa application fees are comparable for both the 2-year company visa and the 10-year Golden Visa.

That’s why many company owners decide to skip the company visa application altogether and instead go straight for a Golden Visa for which they can qualify through other means, as we discuss in detail in our video on how to apply for Golden Visas here on our YouTube channel.

At the Dubai Navigator, we handle all types of visas, from company to Golden visas, and retirement to employee visas.

Hiring Employees

Hiring employees for your UAE business can be a complex endeavor.

Not only do you need to find, interview, and sign up qualified staff members.

You also need to pay attention to UAE labor law.

While the UAE has some of the most business-friendly labor regulations of any country worldwide, there are still a number of requirements employers need to fulfill.

The UAE bans labor unions, and local companies can hire unrestricted numbers of foreign employees.

However, employers are responsible to issue their employees visas, work permits, secure health insurance, and unemployment insurance.

Also, private companies with more than 50 skilled employees are required to have at least 1 Emirati employee. Certain free zones are exempted from these Emiratization requirements.

At the Dubai Navigator, we navigate you through the complete hiring process.

Company Maintenance

Most agents leave you on your own as soon as your company is set up and the visas have been issued.

However, If you own a company, you are legally obliged to manage the accounts, handle any audit requirements, and if you have employees, make sure that all requirements from unemployment insurance to work permits are in order.

You may need to apply for corporation tax, or alternatively, apply to be exempted from corporation tax, depending on whether you have a mainland or free zone company.

If you trade within the UAE, you may need to apply for a VAT number.

Here at the Dubai Navigator, we assist you in maintaining your company even after everything is set up.

Relocation Taxes

If you are a tax resident of a country outside the UAE, and/or own a business outside the UAE, and plan to relocate to Dubai, you need to be careful.

As we discussed in our detailed video on exit taxes, relocating from a high-tax country to the UAE may lead to significant exit tax liabilities.

Whether you need to pay exit taxes depends on the country you are moving from, and your current income sources.

Here at the Dubai Navigator we not only assist you in setting up your UAE residence and business, we also make sure that you can legally reduce your exit tax bill in your home country.

If you continue operating a business in your home country and intend to shift profits to your UAE company, things get tricky.

In those cases, you need to understand OECD transfer pricing regulations to make sure you remain legally compliant when shifting profits to the tax-free UAE.

Check out our article on transfer pricing here.

Time Investment

One of the main advantages of working with us here at The Dubai Navigator is time savings.

We not only handle the entire company setup process and guide you through all legal pitfalls, we also sit down with you to answer any questions or concerns you have.

Get your questions answered all at once, whether they relate to exit taxes in your home country, transfer pricing regulations, or how to find and hire suitable employees for your business.

Researching these topics on your own, while outside the UAE will take weeks and months of your time.

And hiring one of the many standard company setup agencies won’t give you answers to more advanced topics such as exit taxes, transfer pricing, accounting, and audit regulations, or how to hire and let go of employees


While doing your own research may save you money in the short term, it does come at the cost of significant time investments and the risk of basing decisions on unreliable information.

Typical company incorporation services, charge around 500 to 1000 USD for every company they incorporate. And while these service providers may assist in basic tasks such as visa applications, they won’t be able to deal with more complex issues and tend to be biased as they earn commissions from certain free zones.

Here at The Dubai Navigator, we offer all-encompassing residence and business relocation services.

Our services are available as hourly pay-as-you-go consultations and flat-rate strategy plans.

Government fees such as business license charges and visa application fees always come extra, as these depend on your business type and size.

If you have any open questions regarding our service offering, feel free to book a free consultation with us today.


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